Fairy Non-Bio

I won’t see you today.
I’m wearing your favorite top
anyway: an act of aggression
you will never find out about.

I use these small actions to get
through your absence. When
I see you I won’t remember
being angry but I will have left
the house every day this week:
a victory too tiring to articulate.

By then your favorite top will
have cycled through the wash.
I might wear it: an act of contrition
you will register but not understand.

NaPoWriMo: Caller ID, She Would (Probably) Have Dusted, Kei Miller

NaPoWriMo was a lot of fun. Here are a couple of my favourites from days 10-20.

Caller ID

She called me just before
she got on a boat, hi baby
it’s me, to tell me she was
getting on said boat and
might not have signal and

she loved me. Mostly asleep,
I thought it impolitic to interrupt
the moment to say I didn’t
have her number saved
or any idea who she was.

I can hold whole conversations
without waking. She called
me baby; for two minutes
I assumed she was Sally
drunk and with a new number.

Not-Sally was sorry for waking me.
She’d call when she got there.
(Where?) She loved me.
She loved me. I – love you too,
baby. Be safe for me, ok?

It seemed rude to not
love her. I wanted her safety.
She’d call me. She had to
go. Back to sleep now,
baby. She never called back.

When I tried I got a staticky
answerphone. Her name
was Tish, or maybe Trish.
I left a message. I couldn’t
tell you what it said.

She Would (Probably) Have Dusted

There are still wrappers
on both boxes of herbal tea.
She does own normal tea
but she’s got no milk in.

She doesn’t really
drink milk and it’s not
as though her ankle joints
were expecting anyone before
spring when everything eases and
she regains hospitality as long as her
hayfever doesn’t play up. Her visitor offers
to come back in spring. He could bring his own
milk, even, so as not to put her out? She says it’s fine –

I’ll open one of these. We can find out what echinacea tastes like
together. Haven’t you always wanted to know?

Kei Miller

Dad is reading Kei Miller.
            There is an alternate universe-me 
                        who did ballet instead of eating 
                                    and got really good at it.
Dad is reading Kei Miller because I told him to.
            There is an alternate-universe me 
                        who finished her physics degree, 
                                    did Teach First and got
                                                a job on a trading floor.
Dad is recommending Kei Miller to his friends. 
            Dancer-me has lush abs. 
                        No tattoos. Her girlfriend never 
                                    watches her perform. 
            Banker-me recommends dominatrices 
                        to her colleagues. Never discusses
                                    politics. Owns many 
                                                beautiful shoes.
This is the guy I was talking about yesterday. 
            They both read obsessively 
                        but neither of them 
                                    write all that much. 
The Cartographer - Anna recommended it.
            I reckon the three of us are roughly equally
                        happy, and roughly equally horrified
                                    at the thought of the other two
            but I’m the one you’re reading 
                        so what I say goes.
It’s a very beautiful book.

NaPoWriMo: Easier Said, Typicality and More

Hello! A couple of my favourite NaPoWriMo poems so far:

Easier Said

When he dissolves, know that traces 
remain on your fingertips. Absorb what 
you can - worrying about what escapes
will not increase your capacity to retain 
him. Try hard to voice the new things
you find you would have said to him.
Do not allow silence to grow 
where you still expect him, 
his memory dessicated.
Tell a friend
       /your diary
       /the cat
       /but someone. Voice what would 
have made him chuckle or sigh.
Discover what the universe does
differently with him dissolved in it.


Twist fingers together
into knots of missing points.
People are so difficult to
explain: irrational, unfair, blank

where they should shine
and bright where they
should dull themselves
into background.

Explain irrational, unfair, blank
rulebooks. Tell her it doesn’t work
like that, this woman who wants
more than she is wanted.

Witness Rachel Witness Amy

Pulled forward on your chair
Rachel, you sounded like bruise
recognising bruise. The microphone a scouring pad.
Amy in washing up gloves. Amy in fireproof gloves.
Amy telling you to breathe. Amy elbow-deep in your stomach.
Elbow-length gloves for birthing lambs. Or no gloves at all
– just clean hands. You looked like you needed.
You looked like you were given.

Rachel, I’ve seen women in audiences reach for you like that.
(The first time I saw you onstage Hannah had to cover
my body with her body to keep the sobs in.
You were elbow-deep in my stomach. I needed. I was given.)

I acknowledge that I don’t know whether being needed
is a weight on you, or if the cost of giving varies
dependent on who is taking. But I know that being onstage
can hide things from us. And just in case you haven’t seen,
I’ve seen. I’ve seen Black women who give and give and give,
gloves or no, Rachel, I’ve seen them pulled forward
towards you with the same expression on their faces.

The third poem was written for Rachel Nwokoro after we both attended an Amy León gig. Both of them are incredible and if you don’t know their stuff you should take a look.

You can read the rest of the month’s poems so far on Twitter.

NaPoWriMo: Teaching Herself to French Braid

She is acute elbows and kirby grip teeth
(bobby pin teeth according to YouTube).
She struggles to find flow – a date
once told her you can tell how wise
a person is by how far back
they hold their chopsticks

but she can’t determine
whether these strands are like that,
where she would be wise to grip.
Everything slips out from under itself
whenever she moves it.
Her eighth attempt holds, if only just.

It is wonky. (This is expected;
she is perpetually wonky-haired.
As a teenager she thought her inability
to eyeball her pigtails into symmetry
was a side effect of her poor
spatial awareness until one of the mums

doing the make-up for a school play
used the word uneven about her face.
This when she was held still for being
made up has left her fixated on mirrors
forever spirit-levelling her eyebrows
wondering who in this situation she ought to forgive.)

Hello! I’m doing #NaPoWriMo this year, largely because Gabriel Akamo is and I’m impressionable. I’m not going to be posting all 30 poems on here because that would take up a disproportionate amount of blog – I’ll be posting them daily on Twitter (@AnnaCarlaKahn) and putting my favourite one or two a week up on here.

This is the first one – I wrote it at about half twelve this morning. (My aim is to have at least one night’s sleep between writing a thing and posting it in case it’s utter shite and I need to come to my senses.) Today I’ve written drafts of poems two and three.

Happy April, all. :)

After and Still Needing to Eat

She burns the dinner, tells herself it’s fine.
You can’t unburn lasagne. Starts again,
all bechamel and light-touch breathing.
Stirs more carefully this time. Turns off the news.
An open window would refresh the air,
appease the fire alarm. She keeps it shut
and layers meat and sauce and meat and sauce.
Her mouth shaping a howl, an oven prayer.

Peek through

The Badger Elsewhere: Roundup 1

Hello. I thought I’d do a round-up of Stuff What I’ve Had Published Elsewhere Recent(ish)ly. In vague order of appearance:

Almost Too Late to Learn to Take Care (Dear Damsels)- this is, I think, a poem for and about people who don’t hold hands as much as they’d like to.

Curtained Off (Dear Damsels) – this is a Tidal Swell, which is a form devised by Laurie Ogden off of Barbican Young Poets and Antonym Theatre and Spare the Poets and basically you should follow her on Twitter because she’s ace. She showed me the form in a Barbican workshop last year and I wrote the first draft of this poem and then we sat there trying not to cry for a little while because we were both having one of those days.

The Policeman Hopes (the murmur house) – so. This poem makes me nervous, because it’s definitely true but I worry that it’s also police apologist. All police officers have a responsibility and even if most of them fail to meet it (which I know is true) they are still people with stories and this is an attempt at setting out one of these stories. Take as you will, I’ll get it if you don’t like it.

Unsettled (Ink in Thirds) – I am a country bumpkin. This was brought home to me recently because at work I now sit next to someone who grew up even more countryside than I did and he has definitely adjusted better to London than I have. But moving = changing and this is a poem about that.

Trainees (Twisted Sister) – needs a gore warning.

Whittler (Twisted Sister) – does not need a gore warning. Contains the word ‘serviceably’, even though an editor gave me feedback once that no poem should contain the word ‘serviceably’, because while I am normally pretty amenable to feedback I have stuck to my guns on this one, on the grounds that it is the word for the thing I am trying to say.

If you want to be alerted to stuff like this as it happens you can follow me on Twitter @AnnaCarlaKahn.

This is the point at which I realise I have no idea how to finish a blog post which isn’t a poem pretending to be a blog post.



Post-Mortem Date

I should have read her future
in her coffee grounds
the way my grandmother did.

We should have trusted each other
before small talk replaced fairytales
in her coffee grounds.

I’d have told it believably:
short women made of tall stories
before small talk replaced fairytales.

We are awkward now, too tired to fight
the way my grandmother did:
short women made of tall stories.